From The Southern Illinoisan:
Three Southern Illinois University cheerleaders who took a knee during the national anthem at Saluki games were honored by the Carbondale Branch NAACP on Monday morning at this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast.
Alaysia Brandy, Ariahn Hunt and Czarina Tinker, all sophomores, first began kneeling in protest of police brutality in September and subsequently faced death threats over social media. A change to pregame protocol later in the season has kept SIU’s Spirit Squad off the field and court during the anthem.
At the 36th annual memorial breakfast, Carbondale Branch NAACP President Linda Flowers presented the cheerleaders with awards recognizing their courage.
“In the spirit of Dr. King, we the Carbondale Branch NAACP would like to recognize three young women, college students, whose courage — similar to that of Dr. King — transcends cheerleading, who have risked their safety and, dare I say, their cheerleading career, to protest violence and injustices to African-Americans. … What an example of courage and dedication to a cause these three young ladies have set for us older people,” Flowers said.